Friday, January 24, 2020

Supreme Hype Job

The image of a caped invulnerable strongman is almost always associated with the Superman. Granted the Man of Steel’s power set of super strength, invulnerability and flight is a bit generic, so it’s not a big surprise that a number of similar “supermen” have been created by other comic book publishers through the years. Oh well, they say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Despite having its own set of equally iconic superheroes, Marvel too has given us a good number of “supermen”.

My favorite of the bunch is the character, Hyperion. Named after the Greek Titan god of heavenly light, Hyperion, was actually first introduced as a villain and a member of the Squadron Sinister. A team assembled by the Grandmaster to take on the Avengers.

It took a couple years after villainous Hyperion’s introduction for a proper heroic version of the character to finally make his debut. Coming from an alternate universe, this good Hyperion was the leader of the Squadron Supreme, a team of superheroes who were basically Marvel’s own version of the Justice League.

I first learned about Hyperion and the Squadron Supreme when I came across an entry for another fellow squadron member named Nighthawk (their version of Batman) in the Marvel Universe Book of the Dead sourcebook. I was so intrigued by their story that was told in a 12 issue limited series back in the 80’s. It was written by Mark Gruenwald who at the time was well known for his work on Captain America.

Anyway, as the story goes, the Squadron decides that the United States is ultimately better off with them in charge. So they take over the government and start a controversial behavior modification program which basically brainwashes criminals and turning them into more cooperative and law abiding individuals.

Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with some members of the team, most notably Nighthawk who quits the team to secretly form his own group named The Redeemers in order to take down the Squadron.

So the series ends with a climactic battle between the Squadron Supreme and the Redeemers. There are heavy casualties on both sides including Nighthawk himself. Fortunately, before his death, he manages to convince Hyperion that despite the Squadron’s good intentions, they were ultimately wrong. And so the surviving members of both sides reunite to rebuild their broken world.

Anyway, since then, the character of Hyperion has been featured in two other notable Marvel storylines. Although it’s worth noting that both these later versions are also from different universes and are completely different characters from the Squadron Sinister Hyperion and the Hyperion of Gruenwald’s series.

The first was introduced in the reimagined Supreme Power series which was a part of Marvel’s MAX imprint of more adult oriented stories. As a result, this version of Hyperion is a lot more serious and dark. He also wore a simpler body suit uniform sans the cape.

Basically just like Superman, this Hyperion was an alien who arrived on Earth as a baby. However instead of landing on a farm and raised with good morals by a loving old couple, Hyperion's ship was recovered by the US government and so he is raised in a tightly controlled, isolated environment, later becoming covert agent. Eventually he discovers the truth about his upbringing and breaks free from government control to eventually form his world’s version of the Squadron.

The second Hyperion made his debut as part of writer Jonathan Hickman’s major Avengers reboot in 2012.

While this Hyperion was closer in tone to the classic one in character, Hickman made it clear that this was a completely different version without all the baggage of any of the previous Hyperions.

This Hyperion is the sole survivor of his reality and was pulled into the main universe by A.I.M. scientists and held captive by them. He is eventually rescued by the Avengers and becomes a part of the team.

Eventually though, he went on to form his own Squadron Supreme team that is composed of numerous Squadron members who like him are also sole survivors of their own destroyed alternate realities.

Now despite the Squadron Supreme being a very obscure team, as the most recognizable member of the group, there really hasn’t been a shortage of Hyperion action figures.

The first that I came across was a 3.75 version for their Marvel Universe line. This was based off the classic version in his red and yellow costume.

A few years later, Hasbro then released a Hyperion two pack featuring the Supreme Power and Hickman Avengers version. By this time though, I had moved on to collecting Marvel Legends 6” figures so I passed on this set.

Fortunately, Hyperion was one of the earlier figures released in the Marvel Legends line, and since he was a relatively obscure character I managed to snag one at a really cheap price. Unfortunately, I decided that I didn’t really care for a classic looking 6” Hyperion and opted for his more updated Avengers look instead. So I decided to put my average customizing skills to work.

On the surface it seemed like the only differences between the classic and Avengers Hyperions was color. While the classic one was red and yellow, the Avengers version was black and yellow. But there were more subtle differences as well. Most notably was that the Avengers Hyperion had a cape that was attached to both shoulders as opposed to the classic cape that was just attached on one side. The classic Hyperion also had an atom symbol on his chest while the Avengers Hyperion had a nuclear symbol on his belt. And finally the Avengers Hyperion also lacked the folded over boot tops that the original version had.

Anyway, I found that the cape that came with the build-a-figure Odin would work perfectly for this customization. I also found out that the boot tops were a separate piece that could be removed (although it left a noticeable gap in the legs), so far so good. Then I ran into some problems with the paint and belt with the nuclear symbol.

Anyone who does custom work can tell you how how difficult it is to paint anything yellow. The original Odin cape was blue and even though I first gave it an initial coating of white, the yellow paint just didn’t go on smoothly my impatience I laid on the paint too thick and it just looked bad.

The bigger problem though was his nuclear belt. I decided the best way to go about it was to use a championship belt from a 6” Mattel wrestling figure which were plentiful and cheap in my area, but due to my limited skills I was unable to pull this off. Eventually I got lazy and threw in the towel. I just gave up and shoved my now half assed “Avengers” Hyperion figure to the back of the shelf.

To make matters worse, a lot of time had passed since the original toy’s release, making Hyperion figures quite rare and very pricey in the aftermarket, and I had just ruined my perfectly good figure.

It took awhile but I finally found a decently priced Hyperion a few days prior to writing this post.

I’ve learned my lesson though and this one will be spared any customizing attempts by me. And who knows? Maybe lightning will strike twice again and Habro will surprise us with a Squadron Supreme box set?